In its first year, Greenbrier High School’s Mock Trial Team faces off against at least 19 other Georgia schools this weekend for a state competition in Lawrenceville.
Greenbrier senior Joshua Julien started the team for his senior project and hopes to use the experience as preparation to one day become a public defender.
Julien said he got the idea for the team last year while back-to-school shopping.
“I was at Belk and the salesman helping me asked what I wanted to do when I ... finish school,” Julien recalled. “I told him I wanted to become a lawyer, and he said he coached a mock trial team.
“He gave me the contacts and (information) I needed to get one going here.”
But starting the team wasn’t quite so easy, Julien said.
First, he enlisted Greenbrier High English teacher Natalie Brody as the faculty adviser and sought out classmates to join the team. Then, he convinced area attorneys Alex Brown, P.J. Campanaro and Courtney Wingate to coach the team, and recruited Superior Court judges Wade Padgett and James Blanchard as advisers.
Once the components were in place, the 13-member team divided into prosecutors, defenders, witnesses and a timer.
A state coordinator sent the team its case in November. After three months of practice, the Greenbrier team won the region contest, which was held in February. If Greenbrier wins the state contest this weekend, the team can advance to the National High School Mock Trial Championship May 2-6 in New Mexico.
The case, based on a real incident, involved the murder of a motorcyclist who was harassing a young woman driving home. He was shot by one of the woman’s parents.
“We study the case and try it in court, the same process law students have to go through as they attend law school,” Brody said. “It’s a case that already has been tried, so it’s very realistic.”
Each school’s prosecution team competes against another school’s defenders, and vice versa, Brody said.
“I really see it as the perfect way to give me some practice in the field I want to be in,” Julien said. “It’s been a great experience.”